Tim Burton hasn’t made a film as small as the comedic docudrama “Big Eyes”… maybe ever? His latest — chronicling the story of Margaret Keane (Amy Adams), a painter whose husband, Walter (Christoph Waltz), look took credit for her immensely popular paintings of sad children with huge eyes — might actually have a smaller budget than “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” and “Ed Wood,” the latter written, like “Big Eyes,” by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski. It’s a sad story, if one whose Golden Globe nominations (for Adams and Waltz) were classified under Comedy or Musical.
Margaret’s paintings were huge. What’s your memory of them from your childhood?
They were all over the place. Prints were in living rooms, restaurants, doctors’ offices, dentists’ offices, supermarkets. When the story broke [that Margaret had painted them], it wasn’t blown out because it wasn’t considered art by critics. If it had been a major artist it would have been embraced by the critical art community. It would have been a front-page story. But this was the third page in the Honolulu News.
Did you like her work growing up?
“Liking” is a funny word. I was fascinated by it, because a) it was around and b) I found it disturbing. You’d go to somebody’s house and you’d go, “Why do you have a picture of a crying child on your wall?”
They are very strange. Was she at all an inspiration for you?
I guess in a very subconscious way, yes. I’ve drawn characters with big eyes and small pupils. The combination of cute or funny yet disturbing is something I relate to. Her work probably influenced me in terms of that emotional juxtaposition of feelings into one thing.
This is the smallest film you’ve made since “Ed Wood,” if not "Pee-wee's Big Adventure."
In terms of inflation it could be the smallest*. It just reconnected me to having less people and having to move quicker, move three or four times a day. We had to try and make Vancouver look like San Francisco. It was just about moving quickly — something about the energy of that, which is different than the big budget films. I had to worry about how much everything cost. Big budget films you don’t really do that.